Media drilled on extractives sector reporting
By Chiku Jere
Centre for Environmental Policy and Advocacy (Cepa) in partnership with Catholic Commission for Justice Peace (CCJP) Karonga recently coached members of the Malawi Media on how they can promote transparency and accountability in the extractives industry sector through effective news coverage and issue-based reporting.
The two-day workshop conducted under Strengthening Governance of Extractive Industry Project with funding from Oxfam and Australian Aid was held at Blue Waters lodge in Salima and attracted journalists from print, electronic and online media.
The project which is being carried out by several CSOs is aimed at building capacity of the community in mining areas to enable them demand a fair share of proceeds from mining activities.
Among the subjects tackled through various presentation was Systematic Coverage and Accountability, Transparency in the Mining Sector and Understanding the Global Demands for Transparency.
Other topics included Investigative Journalism, Journalism and Social Media, Mining Economics and Political Economy of Mining.
Cepa Project Officer – Extractives Desk, Cynthia Simkonda, said the workshop was organized after noticing that there is lack of capacity among media practitioners in Malawi to effectively cover extractives industry issues.
It is our belief that with this two-day training, journalists will gain knowledge that will guide their effort in writing issues concerning the sector,
Simkonda explained that currently, there is growing public interest in the extractives industry hence the media needs to step in and play its noble role of informing and educating the public on the sector.
Apart from detection and publication of cases, creating public awareness and investigating issues, Simkonda said the role of the media in the extractives industry is to encourage public debate and political engagement around policies, legislations and governance initiatives such as Free, Prior Informed Consent (FPIC) as well as Extractives Industry Transparency Initiative (EITI) principles.
She said transparency is a tool to promote accountability and the media needs to vigilantly play watchdog by monitoring the management of the extractives industry and exposing weakness as well as corruption.
Simkonda observed that transparency is impaired when the media, civil society, parliament and interested stakeholders do not fulfill their roles.
So there is need to develop a zeal of diagnosing extent of corruption and monitoring use of proceeds and scrutiny should be deployed throughout entire mining stages, from licensing, contact agreement to mine opening, production as well as mine closure,
Simkonda noted that exposing weaknesses in the country’s extractive industry will help curb corruption that has marred the industry.
She stressed that improved transparency in the mining sector revenue streams will reveal what resources are available for investing in development, how they are spent, and the results that are achieved.
This will help ensure resources are invested effectively for development – in better health services, more productive agriculture, higher quality education, and improved infrastructure,
Making a presentation on Political Economy of Mining, Louis Nkhata, CCJP Karonga Project Officer – Extractives evoked an interactive session in which participants delved into the nitty-gritty on how political institutions, political environment and the economic system influence each other.
Nkhata urged journalists to use their investigative skills to penetrate the structure of the country’s government institutions and expose shortfalls that are hindering the effective management of the Extractive Industry.
As media you should be able to interrogate the functioning of these elements of governance, the relationship of these elements; the character of, and relationships between key political figures.
These issues and others relating to the host country’s political architecture, are all relevant when it comes to ensuring transparency and accountability,
Nkhata said economic development cannot properly be understood without taking into account the political dimension as it focuses on power and resources, how they are distributed and contested in different countries and sector contexts, and the resulting implications for development outcomes.
The objective of the presentation was to let journalists understand the political economy of the mining sector and facilitate interaction of knowledge sharing.
Participants were also updated on the on-going review of the Petroleum Act as well as the stage at which the revised Mines and Minerals Bill is at. The expectation is that the Bill will be abled during the 2018/19 Parliamentary budget meeting.
This piece was initially published in Malawi’s Mining & Trade Review Issue Number 62 (June 2018).